Lindley Armstrong "Spike" Jones was born
in Long Beach, California on December 14, 1911. He became a drummer and
bandleader, initially supporting such performers as Al Jolson on the Kraft
Music Hall radio program and Bing Crosby on his recording of “White
Christmas”. He started The City Slickers in 1940, began recording
for RCA in 1941, and had his first gold record in 1942 with “Der
Other band members were George Rock – who played trumpet and specialized
in the “baby” voice heard on “All I Want for Christmas
is My Two Front Teeth” and “You Wanna Buy a Bunny” -
and vocalists Doodles Weaver and Red Ingle. Jones's wife was the
singer Helen Grayco, who performed on some of his radio shows and a handful
Jones’ radio show ran for several seasons in the 1940s, with guests
ranging from Frank Sinatra to Lassie. He also had a TV show
that aired on NBC in 1954 and on CBS as a summer replacement series (back
when all the networks had separate “regular” and “summer” seasons)
in 1957, 1960 and 1961 (the year in which his last recordings were made).
A heavy smoker, Jones died from emphysema on May 1st, 1965 and was interred
in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
The Jones band has a St. Louis connection: local singer Georgy Rock is George
Rock’s daughter. She remembers her late father as a very warm
and very funny guy.
|Nukes in the News||Give Us a Break||Proctor and Bergman||Ned Bent of General Defective explains the hidden costs of nuclear power - like his salary.|
|Der Fuerhrer's Face||Spike Jones' Greatest Hits||Spike Jones and His City Slickers; Carl Grayson (vocal), Willie Spicer (birdaphone)||From the 1942 Disney cartoon Nuttsey
Land, this was Jones' first gold record.
|Ghost Riders in the Sky||Spike Jones||Spike Jones and His City Slickers||This song has been recorded by everybody from Peggy Lee to Lee and the Press-On Nails (honest!), but Jones had baritone Vaughn Monroe's top 10 version in mind here.|
|The Tennessee Waltz||Spike Jones' Greatest Hits||Spike Jones and His City Slickers; Sara Berner and Sir Frederick Gas (vocals)||This is another old favorite. In this case it was a Tennessee Ernie Ford recording that Jones had in mind. Jones' approach: do the whole thing in hokey Yiddish dialect.|
|The Sheik of Araby||Spike Jones' Greatest Hits||Spike Jones and His City Slickers; Del Porter and Carl Grayson (vocals)||He took the same approach here.|
|Pootwaddle Cigarettes||Spike Jones||Doodles Weaver||And this was years before the Surgeon General's report!|
|My Old Flame||Jazz 'round Midnight||Billy Eckstine and Jack Miller Orchestra||First, Eckstine's typically smooth take on this pop standard, which was written by Arthur Johnson.|
|My Old Flame||The Best of Spike Jones||Spike Jones and His City Slickers; Paul Judson and Paul Frees (vocals)
||Now the Jones touch, with Paul Frees doing a Peter Lorre impersonation.
Paul Judson sings the "straight" introduction in a style that is
actually somewhat reminiscent of Eckstine.
|Holiday for Strings||Fiddlers On the Roof||Manhattan Pops Orchestra||This was a massive hit for the David Rose Orchestra in the 1940s. This recording sticks pretty close to the original.|
|Holiday for Strings||Spike Jones' Greatest Hits||Spike Jones and His City Slickers||This one is silly from the get-go. Instead of strings, Jones gives us cowbells, chicken clucks and laughs.|
||The Best of the National Lampoon Radio Hour
||They want you - to pay!
|Carmen||Spike Jones is Murdering the Classics||Spike Jones and His City Slickers; Eileen Gallagher (messy soprano), Harry Stanton (bass barracuda), Sir Frederick Gas, The Hollywood Bowling Choral Group||Here it is, Spike's masterwork: the demolition of Bizet's opera in under thirteen minutes. Maestro Jones himself narrates.|
|The Hawaiian War Chant||The Best of Spike Jones||Spike Jones and His Wacky Wakakians with Chorus; Don Ameche (narration)||The first version of this was Jones' big hit of 1946, but I prefer this later recording.|
|Onion Radio 7||The Onion's Finest News Reporting||Doyle Redland
||High Court Bans Same-Sex Friendships. This is comedy, honest!
|Chloe (Song of the Swamp)
||Louis Armstrong's All-Time Greatest Hits
||This sentimental Neil Moret/Gus Kahn number about a lonley guy searching for his girl in (for reasons known only the the lyricist) a swamp was a hit in the 1920s. In Armstrong's recording (from the 1950s, I think) the swamp is clearly somewhere near New Orleans.
|Chloe (Song of the Swamp)
||Spike Jones' Greatest Hits
||Red "Swamphead Ingle, Spike Jones and His City Slickers
||Jones and company didn't get around to trashing this one until 1945.
||Jimmy Cassidy, Red Ingle, Dr. Horatio Q. Birdbath, Spike Jones and His Other Orchestra
||Johnny Mercer put lyrics to this theme from David Raskin's score for the 1944 suspense film Laura and it became a major hit. This parody dates from May of 1946.
|Pal-Yat-Chee ||Spiked!||Spike Jones and His City Slickers; Homer and Jethro (vocals) with Sir Frederick Gas||Recorded in March of 1950, this manages to sum up Puccini's verismo classic in just under three minutes and still throw in a bit of Khachaturian. Liner notes for this CD, by the way, are by noted author Thomas Pynchon.|
|Gentlemen of Golf||The Bill Cosby Radio Show||Bill Cosby||All right, so maybe they're not always gentlemen.|
|McGregor's Kilts||The Dead Alewives web site||The Dead Alewives||Putting a human face on international trade issues.|
|Rhapsody from Hunger(y)||Spike Jones is Murdering the Classics||Spike Jones and His City Slickers; Helen Grayco and Freddy Morgan (vocals)||Liszt (among others) gets trashed here. Grayco was, in real life, Mrs. Spike Jones|
|Liebestraum||Spike Jones is Murdering the Classics||Spike Jones and His City Slickers; Red Ingle and Richard Morgan (vocals)||Ol' Franz gets it once again, this time with assistance from Freddy's brother Richard. Nepotism abounds!|
|The Blue Danube||Spike Jones is Murdering the Classics||Spike Jones and His City Slickers; Carl Grayson, Del Porter and The Boys in the Backroom (vocals)||This time the Waltz King is dethroned, as we are reminded that the Danube isn't really blue.|
|The William Tell Overture||Spike Jones' Greatest Hits||Spike Jones and His City Slickers with Doodles Weaver (narrator)||Recorded in October of 1947, this was another big hit for the band. George Carlin admits to being inspired by it as a kid.|
|Dr. Audio||Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre||Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre||We pause for an educational moment with Dr. Audio (who sounds an awful like Dr. Science).|
|In a Persian Market||Spike Jones||Spike Jones and His City Slickers||I have yet to determine when this was recorded, but I suspect it's from Spike's '50s TV show.|
|Powerhouse||Spiked!||Spike Jones; other personnel unknown||This recording of the Raymond Scott classic (used, in whole or in part, in many Warner Brothers cartoons) and the next were recorded in 1961 for the Liberty LP Persuasive Percussion.
|Frantic Freeway||Spiked!||Spike Jones; other personnel unknown||These are, as far as I know, Jones last recordings before his death of emphysema in 1965.|
|The Spike Jones Laughing Record||Spike Jones is Murdering the Classics||Spike Jones and His City Snickers; Frank Leithner (piano), Thomas Pederson (trombone)||This one manages to be a parody of both Rimski-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” and the famous/infamous “OKeh Laughing Record” from the ‘20s.